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Cornelius News

Would you buy a book from this man?

MODERN DAD | By Jon Show

April 19. I’ve always had a pipe dream to turn these columns into a book. I don’t think anyone would buy the book, but nevertheless, I think it would be kind of cool to publish them if for no other reason than to be able to throw away the stack of Cornelius Todays sitting in a corner in my closet.

I don’t really understand the process of getting a book published. And when I have to learn something new, my attention span lasts about 15 minutes, so I haven’t really gotten very far.

There are like three or four different paths to publishing a book. One is to secure a book agent by researching what type of literature they represent, writing a query letter, and sending samples of your work.

That path seems like the least amount of effort, so I spent a little time last fall writing a query letter. The proposed book title was, “Poop in the Park: A Parent’s Survival tale,” and the letter began:

“I want to publish a book – perhaps the first in history – that contains a story about a cute potty-training toddler smearing 20 feet of poop down a double-barrel twisty slide. But not in a weird way. In an innocent way. She’s not a monster or anything. She’s objectively a cute and personable kid. I’ve shared too much.”

The email included ten columns from Cornelius Today and a couple of the older ones I wrote for a website that used to be called Charlotte Agenda.

One column was a knockoff of the New York Times’ 24 Hours feature that I wrote about spending a weekend as a parent of young children in Lake Norman. I also included one about why I make my kids ride the bus.

There was my retirement announcement as a youth sports coach. One about my family getting lice three times in two years and befriending Nit Nabber Barb. And one about the Blonde Bomber and her fateful ride down the twisty slide.

Then I sent the query letter and samples to a dozen book agents and waited six to eight weeks for their interns to write back to tell me they weren’t looking for anything in my genre.

I wanted to ask what they considered my genre, but I couldn’t because their responses were sent from an unmonitored email address.

Book mobile

There are many writers who’ve lived in Cornelius, and I’ll give you a couple of their books that I really like.

“A Town by Any Other Name,” by one-time Cornelius resident Leslie Rindoks, recounts the history of our town. If you just moved here, it might seem like our origin story is traffic, banks, and strip malls, but it’s not. We actually have a pretty interesting history.

Also, you may have seen a well-coiffed dude shopping at Harris Teeter now and again named Marty Smith. The first book from ESPN’s do-everything-guy was called “Never Settle: Sports, Family and the American Soul.”

I read his book after I gave it to my dad for Christmas a couple of years ago, not realizing much of the book was about Marty and his dad and growing up around sports. Our stories are different, but the theme of our childhood was the same.

My dad is always the first person to call once Cornelius Today hits mailboxes despite the fact that I don’t believe he has personally fetched the mail since moving here 25 years ago.

Occasionally, he’ll tell me that I got the writing bug from him. I don’t disagree, but sometimes, perhaps often, I think his true hand-me-down is the ridiculous things that occur in our household.

I don’t know why weird things seem to happen to us, but they do. I’m not making any of this stuff up. It’s scary to say, but I’m more of a documentarian than a memoirist.

Write of first refusal

I don’t even know if I retain the publishing rights to these columns – something I probably should have asked before I started sending out those query letters.

Maybe I signed something that said I’d hand over my first-born child if I ever published them? Future Man has college on the horizon so I’ll gladly sign him over. We’ll take his college money, and the Mother of Dragons and I can retire five years earlier.

Speaking of college, a few years ago I asked Future Man what types of things interest him. I don’t like asking kids what they want to be when they grow up. It forces them into a construct that maybe they don’t deviate from when their interests change.

When I was eighteen, I wanted to be an architect. When I was nineteen, I wanted to be a teacher. I ended up majoring in commercial printing and design.

My first job was in sales for a commercial printer. Then I became a business reporter and editor. Then I started a PR and communications business.

Now I’m 48 years old, and I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up, so why would a kid have any idea what he or she wants to be?

My kids have probably read three of the 80-plus columns I’ve written for Cornelius Today, which is why I keep that stack in the closet. I figure at some point they’ll want to read them, though I’m not hopeful.

A few years ago, Future Man grabbed a copy of Cornelius Today off the counter and read a column I wrote about how I hate how everything dies in my yard during the summer heat.

When he finished, he paused for a second, looked up, and said, “I don’t get it. You just wrote about the grass dying. Why would anyone read this?”

I shrugged and said, “I dunno,” and walked out of the room.

Looks like the kid’s got a bright future as a book agent intern.

Jon Show lives in Robbins Park with his wife, who he calls “The Mother of Dragons.” Their 15-year-old son is “Future Man” and their 11-year-old daughter is “The Blonde Bomber.” Their dog is actually named Lightning.